Reimagining the police workforce
Almost two centuries after the first forces were established, police officers’ core mission is unchanged: to protect the public, prevent crime and keep the peace while maintaining the highest standards of trust. To continue to realise this mission, police agencies will need to develop a more agile workforce and rely on an increasingly expanded ecosystem of partners—to both provide traditional reactive policing services and accelerate the shift to a more preventative policing model.
Policing: Future workforce
Police leaders share their vision for the future workforce.
Fit for the future
A complex and changing landscape is challenging whether the public safety workforce is fit for the future. This landscape includes five key themes:
We propose that the future police workforce will consist of a strategic nucleus directing and leading a core police workforce that is supplemented and enhanced by a broad ecosystem of workforce, partners, and the public.
The nucleus will consist of senior operational leadership responsible for providing strategic direction across all of policing. They will be supported by a strong strategic capability that provides data-driven insights. A crucial element of this will be enabling the police force to identify, recruit, and manage the adaptive workforce.
The core will consist of permanent police officers and staff who are mission-focused and responsible for the delivery of all fundamental police services, with the support of a mixed team of both core and ecosystem resources. This highly visible core will be crucial to building public trust, maintaining legitimacy, and forging strong relationships across the entire ecosystem.
The ecosystem will consist of a wide range of resources offering short-term or specialist capabilities and capacity, which are available for police forces to use in an agile way. It will flex and evolve as needed, drawing on an adaptive workforce, new partners and the public.
Realising the vision
To make this vision a reality, public safety agencies will need to develop a workforce and environment that are underpinned by four pillars:
Adaptive and agile
Build radical relationships to ensure the right resources and ideas are on hand. Find innovative ways to work with various partners and quickly assemble and disband teams by adopting agile ways of working. And make workforce-planning a strategic priority to pre-empt and prepare for changes in demand.
Empowered and enabled
Enhance the workforce and connect the officer through the use of data and digital technologies. Harness the power of machines to release officers from repetitive tasks and equip the workforce with the right skills to progress towards effective collaboration between technologies and people.
Open and collaborative
Build trust in the workforce by ensuring legitimacy and autonomy. Reset the culture to encourage diversity and creativity with an inspiring leadership culture.
Healthy and fulfilled
Attract new talent to the profession with a differentiated and positive policing brand. Personalise career paths with continued learning and focus on health and wellbeing to monitor and mitigate the pressures faced on the job.
A bold and defiant future
The vision outlined here will not happen all at once. Nor will there be a direct path to the right workforce strategy and structure.
However, our international research into the views of police professionals, coupled with our daily interactions with police leaders, shows us that today’s workers are already adapting to the changing policing environment. As they build on this momentum, police forces should consider how they can prioritise and make progress on the four pillars presented in this paper to ensure that their future workforce is not just sustainable, but also remains their greatest asset.